While we’d all love for every guitar session to be played at full volume, through an enormous tube amp, sometimes that’s just not feasible. Silent practice, using headphones, is however a solid option now, allowing you to get up close with your tone without annoying the neighbors. But when there are so many different guitar amp headphones options to choose from, it can be hard to know where to begin. Allow us to introduce the Audio Technica ATH-M50xBT2.
The M50xBT2 set is designed primarily as high-quality Bluetooth cans, hence the name, yet retains the option of a wired connection should you need it. This seemingly simple addition to the feature set means the M50s are ideally placed to serve as both your everyday commuter set of headphones and your silent guitar practice set. But are they as well suited to guitar tones as they are to more everyday tasks?
Straight out of the box, you get the impression these are a cut above sub-$/£100 headphones. Their toughened plastic housing and dashes of chrome make them look very sleek indeed, like a grown-up set of DJ headphones. The earpads are soft ‘pleather’ which feels comfortable enough however they don’t quite match up to the velvet pads on my trusty Beyerdynamic DT990s, although nothing does. Perfectly fine for longer play sessions though.
The left earcup is where you’ll find the USB-C charging slot, along with the control, power and Bluetooth pairing controls, and the all-important 3.5mm jack input for connecting a wire. This is crucial, because only while using a wired connection can we play without latency – i.e. a gap between us playing and the sound reaching our ears. Thankfully the box contains a 1.2 metre cable, although any 3.5mm jack will work.
To test the M50s prowess in the context of guitar amps, we used our Positive Grid Spark amp, as this features a broad enough range of amp models so we can test different combinations, and then also we tested in a DAW environment using IK Multimedia’s Amplitube application. The first thing we picked up on was how rich the sound was; there’s a definite bump in the low end, so you might need to factor that into your amp’s EQ setting, although it wasn’t unpleasant.
There was also heaps of clarity in the treble area, which gave our Fender blackface amp models the right amount of chime and sparkle. The closed-back design also did a great job at blocking out external noise, allowing us to really focus on the tone, while also meaning people sat in the same room weren’t disturbed.
While the Audio Technica ATH-M50xBT2 isn’t a cheap set of headphones, they do justify their price through their sheer versatility. They can do everyday listening, thanks to rock-solid Bluetooth connectivity and a claimed 50-hour battery life, yet the simple act of giving people the option to connect using a wire means they can also function perfectly well as a set of studio cans. They’re comfortable to wear on longer playing/listening sessions and have a nice, sleek, premium visual aesthetic too. Highly recommended for, well, pretty much anybody.
Audio Technica ATH-M50xBT review: Specifications
- Type: Closed back dynamic
- Drive: 45mm
- Frequency response: 15 - 28,000 Hz
- Impedance: 38 ohms
- Contact: Audio Technica